April 13, 2020

Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner Issues Guidelines For Employers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic


The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong has released guidelines for employers on the collection and use of personal data arising from the pandemic.

The guidelines include the following:

  • Employers must follow the general rule that the measures taken to collect data should be necessary, appropriate and proportionate. The least privacy- intrusive measures should be preferred.
  • It is generally justifiable for employers to collect temperature measurements or limited medical symptoms of COVID-19 information of employees and visitors solely for the purposes of protecting the health of those individuals.
  • It is justifiable for employers to ask for travel data from employees who have returned from overseas, especially from high-risk areas. Similar to health data, the collection of travel data should be purpose-specific and minimal data should be collected.
  • If an employee unfortunately contracts COVID-19, the employer may notify other employees, visitors and the property management office and others without disclosing personally identifiable information of the infected. Under most circumstances, disclosure of the name and other personal particulars of an infected employee in the notice will not be considered as necessary or proportionate. However, it will not be considered as a contravention of the use principle under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (i.e. Data Protection Principle 3) for employers to disclose the identity, health and location data of individuals to the government or health authorities solely for the purposes of tracking down and treating the infected, and tracing their close contacts when pressing needs arise.
  • Personal data protection should not hinder work-from-home arrangements, but employers and employees should exercise extra caution because of the transfer and use of documents and data away from the professionally-managed work environment. The Privacy Commissioner makes a number of recommendations in relation to the security of personal data in the guidelines.

The Guidelines are available at the following link:-


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